If you won’t to dive into real Turkmenian lifestyle, then you should visit Turkmenbashi. Majority of travelers see polished Ashgabat with its white marble shining under the sunlight and think that this is Turkmenistan.
Turkmenbashi city is a port city in the western part of the country. The largest port city in Central Asia has unique landscapes, it’s surrounded by mountains from the East and by the Caspian Sea from the west. The surroundings look deserted and more like a moon landscape. The city isn’t touristic, but many excursions to other resorts and cities start from there. The name of the city isn’t a name at all, but, in fact, it’s a title. The title translates as “Leader of all Turkmen”. This is how the first president of the country self-proclaimed himself.
The city, originally named Kislovodsk, was established in 1869 by the Russian Empire. Modern Turkmenbashi got its name in 1991. Today it’s the center of oil-refining industry in Turkmenistan. Since Turkmenbashi city is just a starting point for touristic routes, you’ll be able to see genuine life of locals. Be aware that the reality will differ from lavishly decorated Ashgabat greatly. Also, you’ll be able to explore some of the most ancient historical monuments in the country. There’re ruins of an antique city Dekhistan. This used to be a flourishing city in the center of oasis that turned into desert. The city was founded in 8th-9th centuries and destroyed by the Mongols in 13th-14th centuries. There’s Shir-Kabir Mausoleum – the oldest preserved mosque in Turkmenistan. Turkmenbashi city was a part of the Great Silk Road, thus, there’re ruins of caravanserai Tashravat. Among other significant monuments there’s Parau-Bibi mosque – the most sacred pilgrim destination in Turkmenistan.